June 23, 2013

Sihpromatum by Savannah Grace

I was a bit skeptical about reading this book because of the title originally as it seemed gimmicky. But I'm glad I went ahead and decided to read it as it turned out to be quite interesting and enjoyable. And since it is the first of a few books about the trip, there's a lot of adventure to be had in the series.

At the age of 14, Savannah is told by her mother that they are going to get rid of everything (including beloved pets) and go backpacking around the world for a year. As to be expected, Savannah is less than enthused at the thought of leaving her friends and pets behind but she doesn't have a choice and soon finds herself starting the travels in China with her older brother and sister and her mother (one brother does not join them due to his work). As they trek through China, experiencing sleeper trains and more, she slowly starts to shed the distaste she has for the trip and starts enjoying herself. They also, in this book, explore Mongolia as well.

Savannah has a large family and a seemingly close one. I do have to say that I'm not sure if her descriptions of them are entirely fair or accurate at times. Her mother gets an ok description but her brother comes off as a jerk many times. Now maybe he is kind of a jerk or maybe Savannah was trying to portray him through her (at the time) fourteen year old eyes. To be fair though, she did say a lot of good about him as well and he was the one who seemed to shoulder a lot of the responsibility of the trip. Her sister, who is older than Savannah, seems to act a lot younger in the book. And again, this could be accurate but it is hard to say. She certainly was a go getter despite how mature she acted though and very athletic. As for the local people she met, they were wonderfully described. I never tired of hearing how helpful and kind Savannah found them and the different things she learned from them. And her descriptions on their way of life were very informative and eye-opening. And Savannah herself is shown to grow through the book, in attitude and maturity.

For a "new" writer, Savannah has a great way with words and the book is well written. I would have liked to see more detail on the sights themselves, but there was still enough there to keep me interested and I always wondered where they were headed next. I am jealous of everything she got to see and if I didn't have pets to take care of, would have been tempted to go off backpacking on my own. But maybe someday. Her tale is a compelling one and to be uprooted at her age and get used to things you weren't familiar with would be tough. But she definitely overcomes her initial aversion to everything and seems to have the time of her life and her experiences are sure to stir the travel bug in anyone. Some pictures would have been really nice in the book, but there is a link to her website where you can see a ton of them, and it was nice to put faces to names and see some of the different areas she visited.

An interesting travel memoir. I'm eager to see what the next one will bring. This book deserves a very solid 4.5 star rating as it was well written and will appeal to all sorts of travelers or armchair travelers.

**This book was received as a Free Advanced Reviewer's Copy**

Copyright 2012
362 pages

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